| 7.7°C Dublin

stark storyline Corrie's William Roache reveals why showing Ken's struggle with Peter's alcoholism is 'really important'

The 88-year-old actor firmly believes that Corrie bosses are doing the right thing by portraying Peter's alcohol abuse.

Close

Ken Barlow is one of the most iconic Corrie characters of all time

Ken Barlow is one of the most iconic Corrie characters of all time

Ken Barlow is one of the most iconic Corrie characters of all time

Coronation Street stalwart Ken Barlow (played by William Roache) has never had it easy, but even the most ardent viewer will know how hard he is finding it to deal with Peter's alcoholism.

The 88-year-old actor, who has been on the soap since it began in December 1960, has spoken to Magazine+ several times through the years but there is a different tone about this week's plot twists as it brings the soap a lot closer to home for him.

He firmly believes that Corrie bosses are doing the right thing by portraying Peter's alcohol abuse and how it affects those around him and he isn't put out by the notion that it is just another headline-grabbing drama for the Barlow family.

In fact, he admits he wouldn't have it any other way.

Close

Carla implores Peter to stop drinking as Ken looks on. Photo: ITV

Carla implores Peter to stop drinking as Ken looks on. Photo: ITV

Carla implores Peter to stop drinking as Ken looks on. Photo: ITV

Mag+: Ken must be at his wits' end with Peter drinking again, does he regret giving him the ultimatum about moving back into number 1?

WR: Ken is in this awful situation where he just can't do the right thing. His intentions were good, he thought if he shocked him and said you have got to move out it would make him see sense and make the right decision. But of course it is a bit naive to think an alcoholic will do that and Ken immediately regrets it.

Mag+: A lot of people reacted to that conversation in the hospital between you both. How is Ken coping with trying to help his son?

WR: It is a very strange predicament to be in. In order to help Peter properly they have to manage his withdrawal from alcohol which means he has to have some alcohol every day. It is such a difficult situation for Ken to deal with.

Close

Peter suffers from hypothermia after drinking in the alley

Peter suffers from hypothermia after drinking in the alley

Peter suffers from hypothermia after drinking in the alley

Mag+: How did Ken feel about Daniel offering to be a donor for Peter?

WR: Peter is uppermost in his mind at the moment and he felt that was a very generous offer from Daniel which might be a solution to the problem which could help Peter feel a bit more optimistic about the future. But they are walking in a minefield. It is a very good storyline. I have known people in this situation. I have had friends who have been alcoholics and it is true what they say, you can't do anything until they turn round and say "help me". Ken is trying and he can't bear that feeling of impotence of not being able to help his son and just having to sit back and do nothing until Peter accepts he needs and wants their help. He is so disappointed that Daniel's offer didn't have the desired effect on Peter.

Mag+: Peter clearly wants Ken to leave him to his own decision, but Ken decides to intervene anyway. Does he feel that doing practical things like circulating Peter's picture to pubs make him feel like he is doing something rather than just standing by?

WR: That is very typical of Ken. He is not someone who can just sit back and let something happen without trying to find a way to help, even by just doing something practical. He tries to go around the various pubs with a photograph of Peter asking people not to serve him. He must know this is a pretty helpless thing to do but at least he is doing something and it might just help, you never know.

Close

DEVASTATED: Ken tries to convince Peter to get help. Photo: ITV

DEVASTATED: Ken tries to convince Peter to get help. Photo: ITV

DEVASTATED: Ken tries to convince Peter to get help. Photo: ITV

Mag+: How does Ken feel when he finds Peter having a seizure?

WR: It is so distressing for Ken to see that they had been warned this might happen but nothing could prepare Ken for witnessing that. It really does bring it home to them and Peter that weaning him off it gradually is the only way forward, however strange and difficult that might feel for the family to actually let him drink. Ken is in despair and he knows Peter is heading towards killing himself and he feels desperate and helpless.

Mag+: Ken seems to be at the receiving end of Peter's frustrations. Will we see more of that?

WR: Ken is the person that Peter lashes out at. The person that is closest to them, that is trying to help them, is seen as the enemy as they are stopping them doing what they want to do. We will see more of this as the story develops.

Mag+: Are you pleased that this storyline is showing the effects of alcoholism on the whole family?

WR: Yes, it is really important to show the devastating effect of alcoholism on the whole family.

Families can be torn apart by it, alcoholism is just as devastating for the people around the alcoholic.

They have the distress of trying to help and feeling helpless. The storylines and writers are handling it very well and showing how it can cause dissent among families - people around the alcoholic may have different views on how to handle the situation and that can cause problems. Coronation Street has family at its heart so to explore a story like this with a family that people have invested in for so long is a great way to educate people about the effects of this sort of addiction. Hopefully it might help people realise that they are not alone, that there are a lot of people going through this.

Mag+: Ken is once more dealing with his dysfunctional family. Do you ever dream of the day that Ken can sit with his feet up and have a quieter life?

WR: Not at all. I love being at the centre of the drama, my dysfunctional family are my bread and butter, no one wants to see Ken with his feet up, least of all me.

I get given great stories and great scenes to play and act. I am fortunate to be involved with stories that people can identify with, family-based stories that are part of the drama of any community. Everyone can identify with some part of Ken's family.

If the Peter story doesn't resonate then they can see something of themselves in Ken's relationship with Tracy and Steve or his grandchildren.

This is what the Street does best.

Catch all the action this week on Virgin Media One.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Sunday World


Privacy